Ghosts, local folklore, the power of thoughts and the human experience. Danny B. Stewart, creator of The Original Provo Utah Ghost Tour, has spent his life studying and analyzing these topics and will be presenting his findings at an event on Friday at Pioneer Book in Provo from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m.
From Ghost Stories to the Human Experience
“My main goal as a researcher and a folklorist, especially in relationship to what people call ghosts, is to not be afraid of them,” said Stewart.
Andrew Kosorok, a researcher of philosophy, alchemy and Western mystery traditions, will join Stewart to talk about “how thoughts and memories can contribute to building the world around us, particularly in the creation of experiences people interpret as ghosts,” Stewart said.
“It’s a topic I’ve been fascinated in for a very long time,” Stewart said. “I’m a performance artist. I’m a lecturer. I’m a storyteller. I’m an original folklorist. … I specialize in Utah folklore: ghosts, monsters — you know, the supernatural aspects of the human experience — and I’ve been doing that my whole life.”
Friday’s lecture will discuss “thought forms,” which Stewart described as “visual interpretations of our thoughts and emotions.” He said, “Some of our finest art has come to us from artists that have used (thought forms) in the creation of their art,” and that such thought forms “may be the catalyst of what we call ghosts.” Stewart will compare historical fears with what people fear today and discuss whether they are real or only manifested in the mind.
While telling ghost stories can be a fun way to spend a Friday night, Stewart said, he urges guests to not come with preconceived notions that this is just a talk about ghosts. “You know, you can beat the topic of ghosts to death and never really get anywhere. This is a new hypothesis; this is a new way to look at the ghost-lore phenomenon.”
A Local Legend
Later this year, the L. Tom Perry Special Collections will showcase Stewart’s folklore collection.
“I’ve collected over 160, 170 original stories that haven’t been published anywhere yet,” Stewart said. “So this is like, local ghost stories, local Bigfoot, local lake monster, food waste, lost love traditions.”
Folklore Archives Curator Christine Blythe said Danny B. Stewart is a tradition-bearer of local folklore. “He is a talented storyteller and performer who has documented and passed on regional folk culture for years through his presentations, tours and online presence,” she said.
Stewart’s stories provide unique insights into the local beliefs, unique practices, experiences and culture, Blythe said.
“A local legend circulating in Provo, for example, might shed light on tensions existing within the community, illuminate fears or highlight specific values,” she said. “When a story endures, it endures for a reason.”